Iran seizes 900 tons of smuggled fuel

The Cradle, July 7, 2023 —

According to Iranian media, over 50 million liters of smuggled fuel were returned to the country in 2022.

Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) seized a tanker carrying around 900 metric tons of “smuggled fuel” and a dozen crew members due to an Iranian court order, Fars news agency reported on 7 July.

“A vessel carrying 900 tons of smuggled fuel with 12 crew members was seized by the Revolutionary Guards’ Navy patrol vessels in the [Arabian] Gulf with a court order,” the agency said.

No further information on the seized vessel has been released.

In recent years, Iran has faced increased smuggling of fuel out of the country due to heavy US sanctions on Iranian energy.

According to Fars, “in 2022, more than 50 million liters of smuggled fuel were returned to the country” due to IRGC anti-smuggling operations.

Aside from smuggling, the Islamic Republic has been facing a surge in maritime threats.

On 6 July, Iranian media reported that a Bahamian-flagged oil tanker collided with an Iranian vessel, resulting in the injury of five out of the seven crew members who were on board. Violating international maritime regulations, the tanker fled into Omani waters, ignoring Iranian naval warnings.

“Oman was informed of the incident, and a legal process is ongoing into the case,” Fars news said, citing the Iranian coast guard in Hormozgan province.

This is not the first time a foreign tanker flees after colliding with an Iranian vessel.

In late April, a Marshall Islands-flagged oil tanker collided with an Iranian vessel, resulting in a number of casualties. The tanker violated international regulations by trying to escape, prompting Iran to seize it.

On 6 July, IRGC naval commander Alireza Tangsiri said: “Iran does not seize ships for no reason. For years, the Persian Gulf has become a safe route, and the Strait of Hormuz is under our surveillance.”

Washington has also continued to illegally seize Iranian oil tankers at sea, acts which Tehran refers to as “maritime piracy.”

According to Maritime security firm Ambrey, Iran’s seizure of the Marshall Islands-flagged tanker in April served as a “response” to the plundering of an Iranian oil vessel earlier that month.

“Iran has proved that its hands are not tied if its national interests are threatened,” Tangsiri added.

Iran recently announced its willingness to establish a maritime security belt with fellow member states of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO).

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